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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Football can’t shuck Cobbers: Win streak snapped at Concordia, 26-14

<st the pizza from Fergus Falls was good. Everything else about Saturday’s trip to Concordia-Moorhead was a bitter disappointment for the Carleton football team, who had its two-game winning streak snapped in a 26-14 defeat.  The Knights (2-3, 2-2 MIAC) are left seeing red and wondering what could have been after five trips inside the red zone resulted in only one touchdown. Though it could have been a lot more, the Knights settled for 14 points in atypical fashion, cobbling together a touchdown, missed extra point, two field goals, and a safety.

Besides the pizza, the Knights’ running game ranked prominently among Saturday’s bright spots, as another strong showing by the offensive line helped to usher the Knights’ backfield to its biggest rushing outburst in five years. A committee of rushers led by Jon Lien ’12 galloped for 216 yards on the ground. Lien was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time in three weeks, but his 82-yard day with one rushing touchdown still appeased his faithful fantasy owners. Unfortunately, the passing game mustered only 172 yards while completing fewer than 50% of passes and surrendering a costly pick-six right before the half. Vaughn Schmid’s rough day prompted head coach Kurt Ramler to experiment with Conor Lynch ‘14 at the controls in the second half.

Though the team was able to outperform the Cobbers in time of possession and total yardage, the Knights were doomed by their inability to convert on third down and in the red zone, going 1-for-11 on third down conversions, and topping off only one of their five commutes inside the 20 with a touchdown. This failure to finish was on full display in the first half when, despite ample scoring opportunities, Carleton only had two chip-shot field goals to show for their efforts and trailed 20-6 at halftime.

Seeking a catalyst to lower the activation energy needed for their offense to react, the Knights turned to Lynch at quarterback when they emerged from the locker room. Though the freshman showcased good mobility and piled up 77 rushing yards, he was ultimately unable to ease Carleton’s offensive woes, leading the Knights to only one scoring drive.

Towards the end of the scoreless defensive struggle that endured for the third quarter, the Knights would have their last glimmer of hope. Still down 20-6 with the Cobbers pushing deep into Carleton territory, safety Tim “El Lobo” Bielecki momentarily kept the Knights’ hopes for a comeback alive. “Bikelock” first stripped a Cobber ball carrier, and then in true lupine form, pounced on the loose ball to put the game back into Lynch’s hands. The Knights responded by cruising 85 yards for their lone touchdown of the day, with a Lien run finishing the drive. It would not be enough however, as the offense and defense gave out soon thereafter, and the Cobbers seized a 26-12 lead to put Carleton away for good. With seconds left, Carleton was gifted a safety to give them 14 points the hard way.

The setback in Moorhead saps the Knights of their momentum heading into this weekend’s vaunted Cereal Bowl match-up with the reviled Oles of St. Olaf College. The coveted Goat Trophy will be on the line after having happily resided on Carleton’s campus for the past two years. Though the game is technically scheduled as a “home” game for Carleton, the aftermath of the flood has shifted the contest to St. Olaf’s Manitou Field. Kickoff is still set for 1 p.m. and Knights fans will have access to shuttles leaving from Sayles prior to the game. As with all Carleton home games, admission will be free.

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